A spinal cord injury is usually caused by a sudden and severe impact to the spine, such as an auto accident. This type of injury can be a terrible and life changing event. One impact can cause you to lose your good health and the ability to enjoy everyday life.
A spinal cord injury, simply put, is damage to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is made up of nerves that run from your brain down to your lower back. The bones in your spine help protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord moves information from the brain to the rest of your body; this information enables you to move and to feel. An injury to the spinal cord can stop the flow of information below the site of the injury. The closer the injury is to the brain, the more areas of the body can be affected.
An injury to the neck can affect your legs, chest and arms (quadriplegia), and an injury to your mid back will usually affect your legs (paraplegia). A spinal cord injury is referred to as either complete or incomplete:
A complete injury means there is no feeling below the location of the injury. With an incomplete injury, there is still some feeling or movement.
The spinal cord is surrounded by a column of bones, or vertebrae, that start at the base of the skull and continue down the neck and back and to the spine’s connection with the pelvis. Commonly, the vertebrae are divided into three sections: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. The spine is likewise described in these three terms.
The bones of the neck make up the cervical spine. These bones allow the neck to support the weight of the head as well as providing protection for the delicate nerves that made up the spinal cord. This area of the spine is particularly susceptible to injury in an accident because the structure of the neck allows the head to snap forwards and backwards. A simple jerking action from an accident can cause a spinal cord injury and so can direct trauma, like a blow, to the neck. Of all the possible spinal cord injuries, those to the neck can cause the most severe results. Often, paralysis at the level of the injury results and will cause a victim to become a quadriplegic, or paralyzed and without the use of the arms or legs.
The middle back is the location of the thoracic spine. The vertebrae of the thoracic spine make up the back of the rib cage and connect the cervical spine to the lumbar spine. The spine is curved from top to bottom and this curve is part of the reason that thoracic spine injuries are relatively rare. Though they comprise only 10 to 15 percent of all spine injuries, accidents involving the thoracic spine are just as serious as any other spinal cord injury. These accidents can result in a loss of sensation or even paralysis, depending on the severity and location of the injury.
At the base of the thoracic spine is the lumbar spine. This is commonly thought of and referred to as the lower back. The lumbar spine is often injured in accidents, including car accidents, and often results in the need for extended medical treatment. This area of the spine is close to and related to many vital functions of the body, including several internal organs. Any damage to the lumbar spine can result in paralysis as well as decreased function of these organs.
Spinal cord injuries are most common after an accident or other traumatic event but that is not the only way they occur. The failure to properly diagnose or treat a disease can also lead to a spinal cord injury. Often, this involves a spinal cord abscess that is not recognized by a medical professional and is allowed to progress, causing permanent damage.
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating and some of the most severe injuries that a person can survive. When an accident leaves a victim with a spinal cord injury, the damage is done not only to that victim but also to the victim’s family, friends, and work life. A victim may find themselves in need of medical treatment but without the means to afford it. The bills may start piling up with no income to pay them. Even a victim’s home may no longer suit their needs after a spinal cord injury.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we understand how one accident can change an entire life. When you have been hurt through the negligence of another, you may be able to bring a civil claim for your damages. The first step to understanding your legal rights should be contacting a personal injury lawyer who handles spinal cord injury cases. We offer a personalized approach to the legal process where you can speak with an attorney 24 hours a day.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, request a Free Case Consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a lawyer now.